- Beyond the Headlines
- Cfl & Covid-19
The week after Mark’s Labour Day Weekend and its rematches finish up often leaves me feeling like Bill Murray on the day he wakes up on February 3 – finally, there’s something new. Without a REBLACKS’ defence to simply stack against this time around, CFL fantasy players will have to put a bit more thought into their decisions than they have over the past two weeks. There are no obvious choices in Week 7 of CFL Fantasy, but there are some definite edges to be exploited.
Vernon Adams is the top projected quarterback on the slate by nearly 20 per cent over the next closest option, but the salary is also nearly 20 per cent higher as well. A lot of Adams’ edge in projections comes due to unbelievably high passing TD/att rates, as he is throwing for a touchdown on nearly 1/10 attempts. The league average is closer to 1/30 this season, and those kinds of stats tend to regress towards the mean over the course of a full season.
All this to say, there are reasons why his projection is so high, but there are reasons to believe that at some point, his efficiency is going to return to more sustainable levels. At league average TD rates, his projection would be much closer to Reilly’s. The matchup with the Lions may start some of that regression as well, as they have allowed the second-lowest rate of passing TDs per attempt this season at nearly half the league average rate. Adams’ rushing ability helps shore up his projection, but he will have to maintain that elite efficiency to get close to 27 fantasy points.
Two games versus the REDBLACKS already this season have certainly helped pad Reilly’s stats, but the combination of Burnham and Whitehead to throw to has brought back some of his old form. Lions’ passers have thrown for the second-most TDs/att this season at about 1/20, but those levels are only slightly above league average and seem much more sustainable. That said, that efficiency will likely regress slightly since they won’t see Ottawa again this season.
Montreal’s defence has been significantly more generous to opposing passers than the Lions’ have, allowing the second-highest rate of passing TDs/att and the second-most passing yards per attempt at 8.76. This all leads to Reilly projecting for the most yards and passing TDs per attempt on the slate in a game with the highest O/U, currently set at 49.5 on BetRegal. Game stacks are in the cards here and Reilly is likely the top QB on the slate.
With Dane Evans lost to injury for multiple weeks, and Jeremiah Masoli still struggling through a rib injury that has had him sidelined since Week 3, there’s a chance that David Watford starts at quarterback for the Ticats this week. If that’s the case, he’s a moderate punt option at $6K, but nothing to get excited about. If, however, Jeremiah Masoli is able to start this week against the Stampeders, there’s some reason to get excited about the Hamilton offence returning to form.
Folks forget far too quickly that Masoli was the MOP leader in the clubhouse through five weeks of the 2019 season and have written him off after just two rough starts versus the Riders’ and Bombers’ defences to start 2021. The Ticats passing attack has been pretty abysmal with Evans at QB versus lighter competition, as Hamilton has the second-worst yards per pass attempt in the league at just 6.7 so far.
The opposing Stampeders secondary has allowed a whopping 8.96 yards per pass attempt this season – behind only the REDBLACKS’ 9.76 – and could be a great opportunity for Masoli to return to form this week if he can get on the field and his offensive line can keep him upright.
D.J. Foster, TOR – $3,784
As mentioned last week, scoring is down sharply at the RB position in 2021 due to several factors, but the salaries are still set well above reasonable value levels. At some point, the top RBs will start scoring TDs again, but so long as the Sean McGuires of the world vulture TDs multiple times a game, paying up at RB is a significant risk.
Andrew Harris put up decent rushing numbers versus a shorthanded Riders’ defence in Week 6, but with as concerning as McGuire is to his fantasy prospects, his seeming lack of a role in the passing game with Collaros under centre is similarly problematic. Part of what made Harris a fantasy force in previous seasons was his five or more targets a game in PPR scoring. In 2021 Harris is seeing just 1.7 targets per game.
Targets may come later this season, but Collaros is a much more accomplished pocket passer than the Willys, Nichols, and Strevelers of the world he’s played with before and as such, is much less apt to panic and check it down to Harris. The Edmonton rush defence has never been a matchup to shy away from, but it’s pretty hard to justify spending up over $10K for a guy in Harris’ spot.
James Wilder, on the other hand, comes into Week 7 in a pretty enviable spot. His volume as an RB is pretty unmatched this season as he averages 15 carries and five targets a game, making his involvement in the Edmonton offence pretty game script independent.
The Bombers’ defence allows the second-most plays per game to opposing offences (58.2), the most yards per carry to opposing RBs (5.56), and the third-highest rate of rushing TDs per attempt in 2021. At mean rates, Wilder would project for close to 93 rushing yards and 0.59 TDs this week, and that doesn’t even include the likelihood of increased check down targets versus a ferocious Winnipeg pass rush. There’s a good chance Wilder gets his first rush TD of the season this week and is the top RB option on the slate.
Despite being second in the league in rushing, Stanback’s 2021 campaign has been disappointing from a fantasy perspective. Like Wilder, he has just one touchdown this season and like Harris, he’s seeing under two targets a game as a receiver out of the backfield. If he isn’t going to catch passes, he needs to get in the end zone nearly every game to pay off an almost $8,000 salary, but his QB tends to take most of the red zone carries. The Alouettes lead the league in terms of yards per carry (5.64) but face a Lions’ defence that allows the second-fewest yards per carry this season (4.35) and the lowest rate of rush TDs per carry as well. It’s unlikely that this is the week Stanback has his breakout 2021 performance.
With the bloated salaries and underwhelming performances at the top end of the RB spectrum, it makes it a wise play to spend down at the position and invest those precious dollars elsewhere. D.J. Foster isn’t likely to maintain his current average of 14.7 fantasy points per game with just a fraction of the workload in the Argos’ backfield. Still, he is consistently getting at least 6-10 touches a game, including four targets per, making him a solid punt option at RB and the best value at the position.
Kyran Moore, SSK – $8,639
Jake Wieneke, MTL – $8,795
Bryan Burnham, BC – $11,459
Lucky Whitehead, BC – $9,092
Kamar Jorden, CGY – $10,822
Eugene Lewis, MTL – $8,925
Kenny Lawler, WPG – $8,836
Markeith Ambles, CGY – $7,670
Jaelon Acklin, HAM – $5,979
BJ Cunningham, MTL – $6,124
The game environments and matchups make it pretty clear who the best receiver plays of the week are but also make it extremely difficult to feel good about playing the receivers fantasy players can actually fit into lineups. There isn’t a single receiver in the top eight of the projections below $7,600 and the value options this week all come with caveats that they may be trying to catch balls from backup quarterbacks.
Kyran Moore leads all receivers in projected points, but it’s almost entirely on the merits of seeing unparalleled volume since the injury to Shaq Evans. He has averaged 9.6 targets per game this season, but he’s 22nd in the league in air yards per game. Almost every opportunity is a swing pass or screen, making it difficult to parlay those opportunities into fantasy points.
Moore has the athleticism to turn short catches into big plays but so far in 2021, that hasn’t been the case as the Riders’ offence has struggled to get the ball in the end zone overall. His matchup with the Argos this week is nothing to get excited about. If Harker starts over Fajardo, Moore is a clear fade. His teammate Kian Schaffer-Baker may be a salary relief option at WR, but he’d also likely languish with Harker throwing passes for the Green and White.
That brings us to the marquee fantasy game of the week between the Lions and Alouettes, who represent five of the top-10 options at receiver in Week 7. Burnham and Whitehead put on a show versus the REDBLACKS in Week 6, combining for 47 fantasy points. The Lions’ passing attack has been one of the most efficient in the league this season, with 8.76 yards per target and the third-highest rate of receiving TDs per target in 2021.
The Als’ defence has been equally generous to opposing receivers, allowing the second-highest rates of yards and TDs per target so far. It could be a third-straight game in which Lions stacks are the go-to route to the top of the leaderboard. Lemar Durant may be a salary relief pivot off of Burnham and Whitehead if he’s able to return from injury, while it remains to be seen whether Jevon Cottoy or Keon Hatcher will fill Dominique Rhymes‘ vacated targets while he is on IR.
For the Als, B.J. Cunningham appears to be the forgotten man for fantasy players, as Lewis and Wieneke have been the top scorers for Montreal this season. From an opportunity perspective, though, Cunningham’s 27 targets are almost equal to his teammates’ (Lewis-31, Wieneke-28) and his air yards per game are right there as well – 74 compared to 85 for Lewis 74 for Wieneke.
At some point, Wieneke’s wildly high efficiency in terms of RACR and TDs per target will regress to the mean, and Cunningham will likely see positive regression. Given the disparity in their salaries, it may be an opportunity to buy low on Cunningham while most players spend up for his teammates. As mentioned earlier, the Lions’ defence isn’t a great matchup to be targeted so far this season, but two games versus Ottawa likely makes their defence look better than it actually is as well.
Despite talk that the Stampeders would run a much more spread out passing attack this season, their targets are extremely condensed, with three of the top five players in the league in terms of targets all coming from the Stamps receiving squad: Ambles (54), Jorden (49) and Huff (39). The next closest Stampeder is Mayala, with just 25.
Those targets may not be as efficient as fantasy players would like, as Mitchell is averaging just 7.1 yards per pass attempt this season, but the volume has been there for the top trio of Stamps receivers, and they’ll need it versus a Hamilton defence that is allowing just 7.03 yards per target. On the upside, Hamilton is allowing the third-highest rate of receiving TDs per target, so whichever of the Stamps options gets in the end zone will likely be a solid play. Jorden’s salary is tough to swallow at nearly $11K, and both Huff and Ambles will be difficult to fit for players looking to stack the Als/Lions game.
It may have taken a late-game 40-yard TD in garbage time to get Lawler over the value threshold in Week 6, but he got there and had his fourth game this season over 15 fantasy points in just six contests. His volume has been down slightly since Adams returned to the lineup, but his upside remains immense. His salary, however, is starting to catch up with his ceiling rather than his median projection and as such, he carries more risk than he did earlier in 2021. The matchup with the Elks is nothing to scoff at in Week 7 as they allow the fewest yards per target and TDs per target to opposing receivers. With that in mind, almost $9,000 is a little tough to justify despite what Kamar Jorden did versus Edmonton in Week 6.
The Hamilton receiving corps has been one of the most befuddling all season. First of all, Brandon Banks has been a non-factor after being the MOP in 2019. With him, Bralon Addison and DeVier Posey all out of the picture, there has been a different fantasy leader for the team in nearly every game at WR, from Acklin to Dunbar, Tim White, and Papi White. The mean projections for each member of the squad run about equal as a result, but there is no way to project which one of them will be a decent fantasy option in Week 7. Thankfully, the opportunity cost is extremely low as three of the four players are all priced below $3,000. However, if it’s Watford and not Masoli at QB versus the Stampeders, it’s a group worth avoiding altogether despite the porous nature of the Calgary secondary.
Calgary Stampeders – $4,502
Toronto Argonauts – $3,200
In all honesty, there’s not a lot to get excited about with any of the defences in Week 7. If Watford starts for the Ticats, there’s some reason to be interested in Calgary, as Watford went 10-22 for 108 yards with two INTs in his only significant playing time in 2018. Unfortunately, the Stamps’ defence has been average in 2021, with just 10 sacks and eight forced turnovers to show for their efforts so far. If Masoli starts for Hamilton instead, then there is no way the Stampeders’ defence is worth the investment.
The Argos’ unit is in a similar situation as the CFL world waits to see whether Cody Fajardo will be ready for their matchup on Friday night in Regina. The Argonauts have put up similar numbers to Calgary with 10 sacks and seven forced turnovers – but in only five games as opposed to six for Calgary – and Harker has put up Watford-like numbers in his past three games of action, going 27-40 for 289 yards and three INTs. At a significant discount to Calgary, Toronto may be the play if Harker starts over the injured Fajardo.
Michael Reilly > Burnham/Whitehead, Durant/Cottoy/Hatcher, Cunningham
Three of the four games on the slate in Week 7 have O/U totals at 43.5 or lower, while the Lions versus Montreal game is at 48.5 and continues to climb. Game stacking for optimal correlation makes sense, given the game environment. Given salary constraints, Reilly is the better of the two QB plays and only one of Burnham/Whitehead will likely fit in a reasonable lineup. The injury situation will become clear before lineups lock on Friday night, and one of Durant/Cottoy/Hatcher would make for a solid double stack. Bringing back Cunningham from the Als just makes sense given the buy-low opportunity for the game stack.
Vernon Adams > Lewis/Wieneke, Cunningham, Durant/Cottoy/Hatcher
With the high salary on Adams, it’s difficult to fit in many other expensive pieces. A single stack with one of Lewis or Wieneke is fine, but their salaries really handicap the rest of a lineup. A double stack with one of Lewis/Wieneke along with Cunningham and then bringing back one of the cheaper Lions’ options at receiver is another high upside game stacking option.
WEEK 7 PROJECTIONS
|Name||Postion||Salary||Team||Opp||Projection||Points Per Dollar||Pass Attempts||Rush Carries||Recieving Targets||Punt Returns||Kick Returns|
|Bo Levi MITCHELL||QB||$9,900.00||CGY||HAM||17.8||1.8||39.8||0.5|
|Ricky COLLINS JR||WR||$7,337.00||TOR||SSK||11.44||1.56||6.9|
|Kurleigh GITTENS JR.||WR||$2,500.00||TOR||SSK||7.29||2.92||3.7||4||3|